Marine macroalgae and their associated microbiomes as a source of antimicrobial chemical diversity

Alessandro Busetti*, Christine A. Maggs, Brendan F. Gilmore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This article reviews the role of microbial biofilms in infection, and the antimicrobial chemical diversity of marine macroalgae and their associated microbiomes. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) represents one of the major health threats faced by humanity over the next few years. To prevent a global epidemic of antimicrobial-resistant infections, the discovery of new antimicrobials and antibiotics, better anti-infection strategies and diagnostics, and changes to our current use of antibiotics have all become of paramount importance. Numerous studies investigating the bioactivities of seaweed extracts as well as their secondary and primary metabolites highlight the vast biochemical diversity of seaweeds, with new modes of action making them ideal sources for the discovery of novel antimicrobial bioactive compounds of pharmaceutical interest. In recent years, researchers have focused on characterizing the endophytic and epiphytic microbiomes of various algal species in an attempt to elucidate host-microbe interactions as well as to understand the function of microbial communities. Although environmental and host-associated factors crucially shape microbial composition, microbial mutualistic and obligate symbionts are often found to play a fundamental role in regulating many aspects of host fitness involving ecophysiology and metabolism. In particular, algal ‘core’ epiphytic bacterial communities play an important role in the protection of surfaces from biofouling, pathogens and grazers through the production of bioactive metabolites. Together, marine macroalgae and their associated microbiomes represent unique biological systems offering great potential for the isolation and identification of novel compounds and strategies to counteract the rise and dissemination of AMR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-465
JournalEuropean Journal of Phycology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2017


  • Algae
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • antimicrobials
  • bacteria
  • biofilms
  • epiphytes
  • marine
  • microbiome
  • pathogens
  • resistance
  • seaweeds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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